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Google’s mobile travel search: an SEO threat?

Google has recently changed its user experience for mobile travel search, with some commentators questioning whether this is an SEO threat given that it is harder for users to view organic listings content. Here we consider the change as it is currently understood and the implications for SEO.

Googles mobile travel search

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What has changed?

In short, it is now more difficult for a user to get to organic web results for a travel-related search by clicking on the ‘more destinations’ button; for example, if you search for ‘Italy’, a blue arrow sits alongside several destinations, on which you can click to see more. This will allow you to view more locations; however, once there, you are unable to return to the organic search results without completing your search again. Instead, you can view search area relevant flight and hotel pricing and by clicking on a destination you can review a knowledge graph card with relevant destination information. Scrolling through destination content will reveal ads for Google flight search, Google hotel search and Google local results-powered restaurants.

What are the SEO implications?

Given that effectively Google is keeping users contained in a closed content area and attempting to maximise their dwell time and conversions through Google-owned businesses, this has some significant benefits and downsides. For users, it is a useful experience with a great deal of informative content in one place. As Google has stated it wishes to become a travel one-stop shop and has spent four years acquiring relevant third-party businesses and developing its own travel products, it obviously also has benefits for Google. For other businesses looking to harness Google travel traffic, we are not so sure. In effect Google is channelling traffic away from other paid search options into its own monetised products and services, which may well prove a threat to SEO in the long term.

Search Engine Land believes this is a temporary feature and merely experimental; however, if you are questioning the specific implications for your business, a London website design agency such as www.britishwebsites.co.uk can help you to navigate through the changes and explain exactly what they might mean for you.

Given Google’s stated long-term travel ambitions, this may be more of an SEO threat than previously thought. Watch this space!

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